When I was a kid, my family attended services at the Federated Church on South Summer street. Sometimes the young folks were released from Sunday school class in the parish house in order to experience the more mature side of religion by getting to sit quietly in the church itself. Actually, I think that the Sunday school teacher would just give up on trying to control us let alone trying to teach us something about our faith. I remember one of them in tears when I failed to catch a collection plate that we were tossing around like a frisbee and a big piece of the rim broke off upon impact with a statue of an angel. Looking back now I realize that I was probably just a pawn in an elaborate plan cooked up by destiny to help a young woman come to the realization that she should pursue a career which did not involve supervising young teenagers. I hope that I was instrumental in helping her to find her path.

I tried mightily to remain attentive during the time that I got to spend in church. I learned some great hymns that still play in my head note for note. I even took special pride in knowing that the Federated Church, my church, was a cooperative venture of devotion between the former individual Baptist and Congregational churches of Edgartown. I liked feeling that my faith came from two separate perspectives. My father’s memorial service was celebrated there when I was in sixth grade. It’s where I would hear Reverend Chatterton, standing at the back of the church at the close of the service, voice for all of us his heartfelt wish that “May the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you all the days of your life!” Such a lovely way to send us on our way. I liked the idea that someone powerful was keeping an eye on things.

I’m a firm believer in science. The Big Bang theory, the laws of physics, the exquisite logic of the theory of evolution all made it seem unlikely that there was some sort of being in charge and responsible for starting everything. But then I heard of another concept – wouldn’t the creator of the universe also have thought up the mechanism of evolution? Sounds logical. That’s one way for me to reconcile what have historically been conflicting and mutually excluding explanations of where we all came from.

I recall very clearly sitting in church slightly more than half a century ago, listening to sermons, singing hymns, enjoying an occasional tiny cup of grape juice, trying not to wiggle around too much. But what was actually preoccupying my seventh-grade brain was a daydream about how a person could easily convert that church building into a really spectacular boat building shop. It has a wide open two and a half story ceiling. A balcony runs around the side and back walls. You could set up all of the wood working tools below and store lumber above. In some cases, the balcony would be just the same height as a big keel boat’s deck. Very convenient. The windows are huge and let in a lot of light. You would have to cut a big doorway into the wall right behind the alter. That would put the boats out onto Cooke street. It would be a tight turn, but negotiable. Then it’s just a short run down to Collins Beach for launching. The steeple would make a great place to have lunch and a bird’s eye view of the harbor. You could ring the bell to announce a launching. To my mind it’s the ideal building for the job.

These thoughts came back to me as I was reading a recent email from Herb Ward letting me know that this coming Sunday, June 11 a couple of musical guys will be leading the 10:30 a.m. service at my old church. Phil Dietterich and Peter Boak plan on guiding the congregation in a hymn sing. They promise to reveal often undiscovered and unknown facts found in the pages of the church’s hymnal, Hymns, Psalms and Spiritual Songs. They will even take requests. Where were they back when I was struggling to stay awake so long ago? Both of those guys know how to inspire an audience. I think I’ll go. I have to figure out where I would put a big band saw.

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